Monday, 10 August 2009

Film Follies

A few weeks ago, I broke out one of my old film cameras and decided to shoot a roll of B&W film. I had been playing around with my Pentax ME Super and was reminded of how much fun it was to shoot with. So for old time sake, I loaded a roll of film in the camera and carried it around with me as I walked back and forth to work for a few days.

Well, I'm not sure if this is a sign or not, but my first roll of film in 2 years decided to be contrary. About halfway through the roll, the film slipped off the winder, so the last dozen or so pictures were all shot on one frame. Maybe it was trying to tell me to stick to the new technology :)

Anyway, here is that last frame. Not bad all things considered.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Now Showing at Zenfolio ...

Although I have been writing this photography blog off and on since 2007, and have been shooting digital more or less exclusively since about the same time, I've never had a website or online gallery of my images. I did post photos and participate at PhotoSIG at one time, but drifted away there and withdrew all my photos several years ago.

I recently started thinking about setting up a web page or online portfolio of my work. Not because I see a pressing demand from the world to see my photos. Much like this blog, it's more a way to organize my thoughts and think about my photography, and ultimately to grow as a photographer. Mainly, it is a chance for me to see my own photos in an organized fashion on a regular basis. I've got thousands of digital images sitting on back-up drives, but rarely look at them. The pictures of family, vacations, etc get printed as 4x6 snapshots and added to our photo album collection. I also do some larger prints of my other images, but with the exception of a few hanging on the wall, these too eventually get stuffed in a box or portfolio in the closet and rarely see the light of day.

What I have been doing with those larger prints for the last year or so is posting them to a viewing board (this isn't an original idea; I think I first read it over at TOP). My board is a large magnetic white board in the den where I stick up recent prints for evaluation. Every time I sit down at the desk I can glance up and look at the images that are there. 'Living' with prints this way helps bring out which I like and which I don't, understand what works or what doesn't in a particular image, and so on. It gives me chance to see where I'm going photographically, am I improving, am I working in a new direction, etc. Images stay there for a few days, weeks or months depending on how much I'm printing and if I'm still trying to figure out a particular image.

The problem is that the wall is only so big, and I can only post a few images at a time. And printing can get to be pricey given what Epson charges for their ink these days. So I thought an online portfolio would be a good way to 'tack up' a larger number of images to look at on a regular basis, evaluate, etc. It would also be an exercise in organizing and arranging my photos along themes, projects, and so on. It could be used much like the viewing board. I'll post new, promising images on a regular basis and live with them there for a while. If they stand up to the test of time, they'll stay. Otherwise, I'll delete them. I don't plan on turning this into a portfolio of thousands of images, and expect to ever have more than a few hundred at any given time. And if it gives me a way to get more people look at my work and maybe offer feedback, then all the better.

Anyway, after that long winded introduction, the site is here. I've 'seeded' it with some older favorite images and a selection of newer work as well. I have learned a few things already from this exercise:

1) For someone who, when asked what kind of photography I do, long replied 'landscape and nature', I don't have many landscape images I think are worthwhile. I have problems composing a good image that stretches from the foreground to the background. Which can be seen in the selections I made, as they tend to be water reflections or panoramic crops. No foreground to worry about.

2) Figuring out how to organize the images was rough. Just when you think you've got it licked, up pops the exception to the classification scheme. Hence the 'Odds and Sods' cop out. And where does sand belong? 'Stream, Sand, Surf'? 'Abstract & Patterns'? Somewhere else?

Lets just say that the organization will likely change along with the images as time goes on.

3) My subject matter has tended towards the abstract and detail over the last year, as opposed to straightforward documentary and scenic photography. I kind of knew that, but how much so didn't hit me until I starting putting together some of my newer images.

See, worth the effort already.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Another Abstract

Nothing special today. Just a recent image taken next to by back deck. This is the lattice work on the lower deck shot through some pink flowers. Another example of my ongoing 'I make more pictures at home than anywhere else' theme.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Peggy's Cove

It’s something of a cliché, but I don’t think you can do a photo workshop in Nova Scotia without visiting Peggy’s Cove. We made the trip, but didn’t shoot a lot as it was raining most of the time (and my rain coat was in the trunk of my car back in Halifax.). Didn’t get up to the lighthouse either, which is just as well since it was in desperate need of a paint job. Mostly hung around the wharves and shot away. It’s all been done before (what hasn’t?) but it was great just the same.

Impressionist Abstracts

Yes, I know that these are not the same thing. But follow along and you’ll see the connection. We did a lot of shooting impressionistic images by multiple exposures & camera movement, as well as abstract images in the workshop I attended recently. For example, the two images shown here. The first is from a wonderfully over mature and overgrown apple orchard. It was made by setting the camera to a small aperture/long shutter speed, and turning the camera. A fairly hit or miss proposition (I killed a lot of pixels to get this one) but can be quite impressive when it comes out right. The second was taken on the waterfront, and is of reflections in the gently moving water.

For a long time, I was a fairly straightforward nature and snapshot photographer. Nothing fancy, nothing the uninitiated couldn’t recognize. But I found it very hard to get a unique image. We all know what, for example, a mountain looks like. And have a good idea of what a ‘good’ photograph of a mountain should look like. And when photographing mountains, the tendency is to try to make the mountain look like it ‘should’. Which makes it hard to get an image that gives the impression of how ‘you’ see the mountain. To paraphrase a piece I once read, all pictures of Yosemite looks like those of Ansell Adams, because Ansell taught us how Yosemite looks like in photographs. Kind of circular reasoning, but illustrates the point.

So what’s the connection? With abstracts and impressions, it’s much easier to let oneself go photographically. There is less of a ‘template’ to follow, so I find it easier to relax and see whatever jumps out and grabs me. Which makes many of these images imminently satisfying to the photographic soul.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Yet Another Junkyard

Really, after years of photographing and never setting foot in a junkyard, what are the odds that I would spend two weekends in a row prowling around car wrecks with a camera. But that is what happened. I signed up for a photography workshop with Stephen Patterson and the first stop was another junkyard (there were other stops throughout the weekend; more on that in later posts). This was a good junkyard, acres of wrecks and lots of variety for abstracts and similar, like the two shots at the top of this post.

But the real find was a burned out mobile home. I don't know the story behind it or where it came from, but it was now tucked away in a corner of the yard. It was great visually, with strong graphic lines of charred wood, soft & diffuse colours from the layers of ash and soot, etc. And quite sad too, since all the former owner's possessions were still in the trailer. Clothes, kitchen dishes, a piece of mail somehow unscathed by the fire; it was all still there. I made what I think are some of my strongest images in a long time at the trailer. I'm not sure the exact reason I feel that way, whether it is the great visuals or the emotion.

Here's one of my favorites:

Monday, 18 May 2009

Junkyard Shoot

After a fairly lengthy photographic hiatus (note the complete lack of recent posts), I've started to pick up the camera again. I was out with a group on Saturday shooting in a junkyard. Two things of note:

1) I very easily go into visual overload when there is too much to photograph. On a shoot with so many opportunities for pictures, I tend to focus on just a few locations/objects. This isn't for any deep reason like 'working the image' until I get 'the shot'. It's just I can't absorb any more.

2) I really have to work harder on getting the composition right. I'm cropping way too many images that I should have taken more care with and gotten it right in camera. And I see the composition I want the minute I open the image on the computer; I'm just not seeing it in the field. Not a big deal I suppose, but a hold over from shooting slides. Having to crop all the time also makes me feel like I'm being lazy when I'm shooting, like I'm not trying hard enough to see what I need to see.

Anyway, here's a few of the images I made on Saturday.

Friday, 27 March 2009

The Driveway

I have't been making many photos lately; I have been busy with all the other things in life. And photography has been very close to home. These two are, in fact, pictures of my driveway.
One pre-snow, one post-snow.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Another Season Come and Gone

Here we are in the depths of winter again. Snow on the ground and the lake has just frozen over. This image is actually from this spring, when the ice was just disappearing from the lake. But it looks remarkably similar to the view just a few weeks ago as the ice began to appear on the lake (no picture of that scene though). Isn't the cycle of the seasons neat?